Thursday, December 25, 2014

New PCB - Raiden II (Seibu Kaihatsu, 1990)

After playing this for about a month solid, I feel it's fair to say it might be my favorite old school Toaplan-style shmup. There's so much it does right - game play and pacing, soundtrack, sound effects, simple scoring - and so very little it does wrong! It can be hard and getting sniped in the later stages is brutal, but when you get in the zone, it's super satisfying in a way very few Shmups can be.

I picked up the pcb after deciding to let go of Ghosts and Goblins, because even the thought of trying to get the 1 loop clear is unappealing, two years after I stopped playing it. 

Raiden II is just so enjoyable, so fulfilling when you get it right, that i just don't want to take it out of the cab for any reason. 

I'm shooting for the 1cc and my skills with old school games is such that I can see it happening, but really, only time will tell. High score right now is a paltry 871,630, but progress is coming swiftly. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ketsui 1-All - finally!! :) 108,108,293

I'm literally tingling all over right now. Finally, after working on it for the last two weeks, I get the 1-all! It wasn't pretty and it wasn't my highest scoring game ever, using all my lives and going through a bunch of bombs in the stage 5 boss battle, but I'm super stoked I made it.

I started stage 5 with 4 lives in reserve and lost two pretty quickly, foolish mistakes, but totally maximized the next two and got the extra life from the Panzer Jaeger. Once I hit the halfway mark, I lost another life cause I was trying to horde some bombs and got into a bad spot. 

The end boss battle wasn't much to speak of - some decent dodging and some luck, but definitely some seat of the pants moves that surprised even myself. I finished the battle with no bombs or lives left.

When that boss went down, I stood up, incredulous that I did it, shouted a frankly scary YEAH! and sat down to watch the ending of my favorite game. The surge of emotion at the 1-all surprised me. 

So many times I watched superplays and thought to myself that I would probably never see the end of the game or hear that awesome closing track as a result of my own play, but I did. 

Not sure if I will attack this seriously now or if I'll take a little break and try something else like Guwange, but beating Ketsui feels so good it's hard to describe. Like some sort of life goal or something. In stoked beyond comprehension. :) 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ketsui high score #12 - breaking the 100 mil barrier!

Holy shit - yeah! Broke 100 mill, a goal I have had forever on this game. Super stoked and an incredible run for me. 

No-missed up until the stage 4 boss and then entered stage 5 with ~87 million. My early stage patterns are pretty good now, but my second half is weak! I lost three lives in stupid fashion - and let the 1up dropped by the Panzer Jäger drift off the bottom of the screen! If I had bombed smartly, this could have very easily been a 1cc of this monster title. 

It's cool though, cause I'm plowing through and headed for that 1cc like a freight train from hell. I really still love this game - which blows me away. It is so demanding on your ability to adapt and to control your own aggressive tendencies that when you start to push it to get a few more five chips, it can turn brutally unfriendly in a split second. When I have a bad run of games, I always find myself pushing too hard and I have to remind myself to lay back and chill and play within myself. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ketsui high score # 11 - 97,985,343, 1-5 boss!

Oh man - so close to the 1cc, so close to 100 million! Played about 5-6 games today and was sucking pretty hard trying to better some of my existing patterns for points, so I went back to old patterns and just went for it and two credits later, I make it to the stage 5 last boss for the first time on one credit. 

It him down to a bit less than half health and ate it after using up all my bombs. 

I'm crazy stoked. It's been a goal of mine since I got Ketsui to 1cc it. I absolutely love this game - it's totally made for my play style - aggressive and without stage long DDP style chains, rewards no death/no bomb highly and the music, graphics and design just totally does it for me. Really if I had one wish it would be that Cave does Ketsui II with the same type of attention try crafted SDOJ with. That would be a day one kit purchase, no question.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ketsui high score #10 - 84,022,646

I've been playing Armed Police Batrider for the past two weeks and feel like I haven't gotten anywhere. Earlier today I just bummed out on it, and popped in Ketsui, which I had been putting off playing till I had the drive to finally go for 100 mil+ and a 1-loop clear. Second game of the day and I best my old high score by some 10 million points.

I started working on stage 5 after a few games as I don't have a ton of patterns for it, but stage 4 is pretty solid now, which was my stumbling block previously. 

I'm hopeful for the 1-loop clear and 100 million seems right in my wheelhouse now...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Out Zone high score #4 - 3,190,400 - third loop!

Made the third loop! Besides Batsugun, this is te first Toaplan game I have been able to loop twice, which feels pretty sweet. The third loop is pretty brutal, but even though I didn't make it past the early stages, I think it's doable with most of the same patterns from loop two. 

I think I'll probably give this a rest now and work on Same Same Same as I have my autofire pcb back and after play a few games late last night, feel myself getting sucked in...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fire Shark high score #2 - 1,252,270

I attended my first Colorado Shmup meet at Jon eXidy's place and what an arcade!

I knew his collection was massive after years of being on KLOV and Shmups, but man, it's just awesome.

When I got there, Fire Shark and Raiden DX were in the vertical cabs and I tore into both, playing the Training course in DX and going for distance in Fire Shark. Amazingly, I remembered a lot of the game from my many runs through a few years back and just kept plowing through to eventually get to 10-1 after a good dozen credits - which totally surprised me as I made it through stage 8 and 9 without ever having played them. 

I threw in the towel after my 10-1 run, partially because I was kind of monopolizing the cab and mostly because without autofire, it's a bit tiring. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Out Zone high score #3 - 1,703,900 area 134

Didn't expect to loop this without auto fire, but I did! Pretty impressed with myself, but really, I was just as surprised to make the loop. Cannot wait to try the second loop with autofire!

New PCB (kinda) - Out Zone (Toaplan, 1990)

I never did a new PCB post for this even though I got it a while back, so here's a belated one!

Out Zone is a game I absolutely love, one of the best run and gun Shmups ever and one of my favorite Toaplan games. Prices on this PCB have steadily gone up and much like Donpachi and Dodonpachi, which could be had on the cheap five years ago (still remember a Fujita price list where DP was 8900 yen and DDP was 12500 yen), it's started to climb in price as the majority of PCB's are ending up in collectors hands. 

The game is an excellent combination of old school Shmup and great run and gun with good shot types and great power ups. It's a blast zipping through each level and does not really take long to get good at. You have a ten-count bomb stock and can blast through most levels with some creative bombing and speed. 

The graphics and music are excellent for the era and get me stoked whenever I hear them! 

Autofire is pretty much a must for this one, as your hand and arm will get super sore if you are not a tapping madman. As it is, I played a few credits today waiting for my autofire PCB to come back from Zespy and made it pretty far - 6th stage I think and te first time I got there! I practice the last stage a bunch, but it looks like there are a TON of mandatory bombing spots. 

Still, I bested my old high score by quite a bit and when my autofire PCB gets here, I'll be tackling this one looking for the loop.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

New PCB: Guwange (Cave, 1999 - orig. and Blue Label)

Finally! After years of thinking about getting one and one aborted attempt (seller changed his mind) I finally scored one of Cave's most moody and striking - not to mention difficult - games. 

It's like an intense version of Out Zone with forced scrolling, a Shmup, but with your character walking on the ground and with actual physical obstacles to contend with. 

To be completely honest, I never really clicked with it until I got the PCB and even now, I'm not so sure. I definitely like it - the art and soundtrack are stellar and the game play is very demanding and enjoyable. The feeling of carrying a chain through a few levels is great, the feeling of losing it, terrible. And maybe that's why it's such a hard game to jell with. Small mistakes can have harsh punishments and that fun, visceral interactiveness turns to bitterness very quickly. That being said, it's still crazy good. 

Blue Label is pretty easy and I immediately put the original roms back in. It's very cool to be able to play a Blue Label version of a Cave game, but it just didn't grab me. It actually turned me off of the game for a bit, making me go back to Thunder Dragon 2 for a while until I started driving myself crazy trying to learn  stages 6 and 7. 

So, I popped this back in with the original roms and went for it. Few days in and I'm scoring in the 2 mil range, but progression is basically stalled at stage 4, so I have a lot of learning to do there!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thunder Dragon 2/Big Bang high score #5

Well, I didn't get far with my new pcb before I picked this up again and cannot get it out of the cab. Progress is coming fast, with stage 4 and 5 going down easy. Didn't lose a life until the stage 6 boss and then tanked both extra lives trying to learn the bullet patterns - where I should have just bombed instead. Seems like there are few bosses in this game that you can actually dodge their shots.

Not a huge push past my old high score, but notable if only for the fact that after two days of having it in the cab, I started to break the 2mil mark - a feat which I considered monumental last time I played.

I have really come around on this game - I consider it an essential part of my collection - very old school, great BGM/OST, super fun and one I would absolutely love to 1cc - but that final boss is b-ru-t-a-l.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Battle Garegga - and getting down and dirty with my shmupping

It's not like I haven't played any games in the past year - in fact, I played through Persona 4 and Shin Megami Tensei - Digital Devil Saga (Parts 1 and I'm right at the very end of 2) - but really, that stuff has always been more casual for me.

After moving here to Colorado Springs, I decided for the first time in 17 years, to put a band together. I had been playing guitar on and off and was supposed to start a band with a good friend of mine in Chicago, Shane (guitarist in Murmur and Guzzlemug) and the night of our first practice together, I found out I got the job in COS and was moving in a few weeks - which kind of put a damper on the band thing.

So, I had to scratch the itch and get somethign started here. I got on CL and found a bassist into the stoner metal x early black metal x sludge thing I was thinking of in my head (think Sleep meets Celtic Frost meets Autopsy) and we started to jam and it came together realy fast. We got a drummer pretty quick too and before I knew it, we had a good 3-4 songs with another riffs for about 5 more (all stuff I was pretty impressed with) befpore they started talking of touring, quitting their jobs and trying to make it as a band. Now, I have been down that road and even had a good amount of time living in my car to try and make it happen and I wasn't interested in trying that again, especially as I have friends in major label signed bands who have to work as dishwashers and carpenters and kitchen help when not on tour so they can eat. There's no money in music anymore, really.

We split amicably - I took the music and name and they went off to try to find another guiarist. It was a lot of fun to play again, but really, I just wanted to get loud and prove to myself I could still write good songs - which I did. I may upload some of the recorded video of us riffing at some point. Some good stuff in there.

It took me a while to get my monitor fixed, as it didn't survive the move as well as I would have hoped, but here I am, playing the shit out of Garegga again and hoping to sink my teeth into a new PCB in the stable shortly...

It's good to be back.